5 Things I Learnt From #MarchMeetTheMaker

#MarchMeetTheMaker came and went in the blink of an eye and before I knew it, it was over. For anyone who doesn't know, I set up the Instagram challenge in February of 2016 to give people a solid month of content and so we could all get to know each other a bit better. It started off as a bit of fun and snowballed into something much bigger, quicker than I could have ever imagined. People from all over the world joined in and it really is a great community to be a part of and I've met some amazing new friends through it.

So what did I learn?

1. The power of social media is so much greater than I have ever given it credit for. This challenge wouldn't have the following that it does without the power of the regram or friends tagging other friends to take part. I owe all the success of this challenge to people spreading the word. Without them, I'd be doing it on my own. It actually blows my mind if I try to imagine it in numbers.

2. Preparation is important, like really important. I photographed most of my images way in advance because I knew that I would be away visiting Etsy HQ for a couple of days and I'd orgranised a surprise day out for my family. This took off so much of the stress of finding something interesting to post about and I found it actually made my posts a bit more interesting to read. Probably because I had to really think about some of the prompts. During the first year I'd spend at least an hour every night trying to do the round up and trying to scroll through everyone's images. This time I found it better to check several times throughout the day. This way I didn't have to spend so much time in the evening doing it, and it meant I got to see so much more content. Also, it was much less stressful.

3. That you can't please everyone and you can't like everything. At the start of challenge, I was trying to reply to everyone and trying to like everything posted to the point that Instagram blocked me from liking posts for an hour. I wanted to thank everyone for their help and for taking part but it got to a point that I was finding it really stressful and felt anxious every time I picked up my phone. It took me a while to realise that it just wasn't possible to like everything and thank everyone (even if I did try my best to do so). I also realised that I had to switch off otherwise I would do no work, no orders would get made and I'd waste hours online stressing. I don't allow any push notifications what so ever on my phone so once I'd closed the app, that made it a lot easier to try and get on with things. Although there was always a niggle in the back of my head telling me to go and like more.

4. We're all in the same boat and have A LOT in common. I noticed so many similarities with other creative types during this challenge. One of the things I noticed the most is that we all seem to like the colour yellow (my favourite), stripes (another favourite) and denim dungaree dresses (I still can't find one in my size!), we love working in our pjs from time to time, and that's just the start of it. I also noticed a number of people saying how lonely it can be running your own business, especially when your friends and family don't quite get it, so having this opportunity to make friends with like minded people was a really good thing. I also had an overwhelming response to this post:

Day 30 | Top tip – I had decided on something completely different for today’s post but last night I had a sudden change of heart. My top tip for today is learning to believe in yourself (something I’m not great at doing). Social media can be bit of a buzz kill when it comes to being creative. You get sucked into all the pretty, well composed posts on Facebook, Instagram and Pinterest, and before you know it, you’ve lost all enthusiasm to do what you set out to do because everyone has ‘done it better’ or you don’t think you can reach some ridiculous high standard you’ve set yourself in your head and you just sit there in a ball of stress. Step back from those images. You ARE good enough. You know you are really, but because you’re comparing your start to someone else’s middle it doesn’t feel like it. After all, comparison is the thief of joy and all that. Those beautiful images don’t show you, the hard work, sleepless nights, worries, balance of two jobs and stress that goes on behind the scenes. All you get to see are the best bits. So, my tip is, when you find yourself getting sucked in, switch it all off. The longer you stay comparing, the worse you’ll feel. Turn off those push notifications, make yourself a brew and relax. You are good enough, you just have to believe it. #Marchmeetthemaker #toptip #believe #believeinyourself #youaregoodenough #comparison #comparisonisthethiefofjoy #youcandoit #positive #youvegotthis #encouragement #easiersaidthandone
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As creative people we're constantly looking at what other people are doing and we seem to compare ourselves to each other and it usually ends up leaving all feeling a little deflated. From time to time we let comparison be the thief of joy and that's just not cool.

5. Creative people are really friendly and will help pick each other up. This is the best thing that I learnt over the course of the whole challenge. I saw a few people who were genuinely nervous about taking part for various reasons and strangers on the Internet would help to give them the confidence boost they needed to get going. There was no bad vibes, no horrible criticism, no competition, just positivity, confidence boosting and friendliness. Day 10 was a great example of this because that day was all about recommending a fellow maker or small business. Everyone gave glowing reviews of whose business they were particularly loving at that time. Imagine the love those recommended people must have felt, especially if it was completely unexpected. Day 14 was all about creative friends, and again, that feed was rammed full of love, positivity and people bigging each other up. Day 30, top tip, was definitely my favourite though. There was so much helpful advice, positive messages, and people coming together. There was no competition, it was a very 'real' day if that makes sense. We have the tendency to only show off our highlight reel on social media and here people were very real about their struggles by sharing their experiences or how they were feeling that day. It really was a great day to be part of such a great community.

I can't wait for #MarchMeetTheMaker next year. The community has had lots of great ideas of what they'd like to include. I just need to sift through them to make the final plan! Keep your eyes peeled for February 2018 for more on the next challenge.